Update: 10:45PM, 6/1/2002 - It's in the bag. 1060 miles, 22.25 hours.
I'm planning on running up to Chicago from Kansas City to pick up a Blues Fest 2002 t-shirt for the wife. Figure while I'm at it, I can do the documentation and get an IronButt SS1K certification.
The funny bit is, I'll actually pass my wife on the way out - her and her parents are headed to Chicago and will be in town that weekend. But, due to family events, my wife won't be able to go the 30 minutes to downtown to get the T-Shirt, so I have to ride 23 hours to get her a shirt. <grin>. Whattashame!
I've taken this route a dozen times or more -- the wifes' family lives in Chicago, and I used to drive up there every month (or more!) when I was courting her. Pretty simple, rather dull, but it'll get you there.
I plan on leaving the house around 11:30PM Friday Night, getting a witness (in progress) and getting the start reciept around midnight Saturday AM. Should arrive in Chicago about 10:30 AM, more or less. With luck, the T-Shirt vendors will open up an hour before the fest and I'll get my shirt and be back on the road by noon. ten-and-a-half hours later, I'll be back in KC.
While the forecast called for 70s and cool and rain, it turned to be one *HOT* day. Mid 90s. Damn. Ah well; I didn't have any real problems, and the heat discouraged me from taking a nap in the afternoon at a rest area. It was a lot cooler riding on the bike that sitting still.
Bone stock 1997 Honda VFR.
First Gear Killimonjaro coat, Hypertex Overpants. Sidi Sympatex boots. Tecknic Violator gloves. Widder System II electric vest. Olympia winter gloves. Aerostich Triple Digit Overgloves. HJC CL-12 helmet. Pink earplugs. Spalding duffel bag. Wolfman Max Mag Tank Bag. Camelback 50 oz drink bladder.
Oh yes, and a Bunsaver self inflating seat cushion.
Guess I should get cranking on this. Ok. Short version:
I rode to DesMoines, turned right, rode to Chicago, took a right and parked. Got the T-Shirt. Took a left, rode to Des Moines, took a left and got home. Saw 3.25 dead deer, hit .25 deer. Rolling average speed about 67. Stops are a killer for making time. Max speed 92 out, 93 back. Minimal LEO presence. Iowa rest areas are nicer than most state capitols.
Thanks to George Wacaser for taking hours out of his day to witness the start and end of my ride.
Oh? More details? You wanna know the gory details about the quarter-deer? Sigh. Ok.
The Long Version
I'd been planning on doing an Iron Butt ride for over a year now; one of the first motorcycle mailing lists I subscribed to was the LDRiders list. I had a Concours, but never got around to doing the rides - time and family obligations kept my rides under the 12 hour mark. Best I had done on that bike was 559 miles, and that *really* hurt.
So, now I've got this VFR after toasting the Concours. Haven't ridden it much, couple of day trips to Cassoday. 300 or so miles in a day is the most I've done on it. So much for 'building up to it', eh? Anyway, it just seemed more 'fit' for cranking out the miles on the slab. Fun in the corners, too...
Anyway, turned out that the wife and son would be out of town this weekend on their way to Chicago to visit her parents and family. Also, we had originally planned on going up to Chicago to the Blues Fest. Carol has been going there for *years*, and has most of the t-shirts from it. Unfortunatly for her, the schedule she'd set for herself didn't leave any time to get downtown to the blues fest to get a t-shirt. So, I kindly vounteered to ride up and get a 2002 Blues Fest t-shirt.
Looked at the bike, figured the tires had good tread, just put a new battery and R/R in, and already had all the gear from the past year of buying stuff. What the hell. Asked around for routing advice and tips - got some good ideas that I should take I-88 into downtown. Found George was willing to witness the start and finish of the ride. Posted my intentions to the various lists, and put this webpage up. No backing out now, I've got pride on the line!
Work was even cooperating - we moved offices on Friday, and they kicked us all out at noon on Friday, so (theoretically), I'd have a chance to get a good 8 hours of sleep before my midnight Saturday departure. I get home from work, kiss the family good bye as they leave for Chicago and get myself ready to go too. Got the food, water, clothes, paperwork, etc all lined up. Lay down about 3:00 for a good bit of sleep. Wake up 2 hours later just *wired*. So much for sleep, eh?
Putter around for a couple of hours, then load up and leave to meet George at the QuikTrip down the street. Well, now you've all heard about the admonition not to try out new gear on a long trip, right? Well, I had two new bits of gear - a Wolfman tank bag and a Sigma 800 computer. Had major problems before I even left! I pull up to QuikTrip, see George, pull over and get the paperwork for him to sign out of the map pouch of the tank bag. Waitadamnminute! I know I *JUST* put the papers in there! I look in the bag, the duffel, my gear, nothing. Man, this isn't a good way to start the ride. I apologise to George, and get back on the bike to go to the house and find (or re-print) the witness forms. Pull back up to the house and check the tank bag map pocket one more time. Find out that the map pocket has a bloody divider in it, so you can hide maps under it, and the witness forms were securely in place under the divider. Grrr. Back on the bike, back to QT.
Get the start witnessed, shoot the breeze with George for a bit while I'm waiting for the air pump to free up, air the tires, get my starting reciept and I'm off. George rode with me for the first 10 miles or so, then he peeled off for home.
It's dark, it's cool and I'm loving it. Uneventful ride thru downtown KC, on up North toward Iowa. Haven't been on I-35 North of town in a couple of months, and it's just getting worse. Most of the road is covered in elephant snot. Tar-snakes, that is. Grrr. Steady and careful ride to the border, then the pavement greatly improved. I still am not sure of the reserve range on the bike, or the real gas milage on the road, so I'm going to be fairly conservative with my stops. I stop in Osceola, IA for gas about 3:00 AM. Still doing alright.
Realize I have to stop again at Des Moines to get a 'corner' reciept, so an hour down the road I pull off to the usual QuikTrip for a couple gallons and a reciept. Still alright, but starting to get tired. Guess 22 hours awake with a 2 hour nap wears on you after a while.
Haven't seen any LEO activity, or any signs of deer yet. No eyes in the ditch, no dead things on the side of the road, no splashmarks where a semi got the best of things. I'm tired, but things look good. Then, I see the first dead deer on the side of the road. I try to get more alert, but it ain't working so well. Doesn't help there is a pile of traffic heading westbound, and I'm trying to be polite, keeping my high beams off for the most part.
Then, I see a dark spot just up ahead. WTF? It's really close, and I'm really not going the speed limit. MSF training kicks in - don't focus on the thing you don't want to hit. Push the bars to swerve right should miss it nope damn thats a deer! THUMP Ok, it was a quarter of a deer - ribs, spine and one leg *right* in the middle of the road. I got the right edge of it and rode right over it. Gotta tell ya, there is nothing like a hitting a quarter of a deer at 4:30 in the AM to make you feel alive. I debated going back to either move it or unload the Glock at it, but I figured I was currently alive, and wasn't going to chance that.
Not 15 mintues after that, I saw eyes at the side of the road. Eyes, and a set of pointy ears on a tan body. Either it was a big fox, or it was Kickaha the Trickster laughing at me and waiting to play another fast one on this tired rider. Either way, I was done. I found the next rest area and pulled out. Pulled off the helmet, walked around for a bit and figured I'd hit the Iron Butt Motel for a while. Didn't have an alarm, figured if I slept too long and bagged the ride, no great loss. Let Kickaha go play his tricks somewhere else.
A side note - the equipiment and landscaping at all of the Iowa rest areas rivaled most state capitols. Spotlessly clean, all equipped with a satellite downlink for weather information, and very comfortable picnic tables.
Woke up and it was light. Wonder what the heck happened there? Checked the time, and it was only 6:00 AM. Cool. I'm still in the running. Gear back up and get back on the road. Now, it's morning, and I've got a taste in mind for a Mc Donalds biscuit and some coffee. Of course, now, there are no Mc Donalds in sight. Ride till I find a town (Coralville) and take the exit pointing to "Hardees". I ride down the ramp, turn right, and figure it should be just right there. I ride a bit more, take a left at the light, and ride some more. Finally, about 10 minutes later I find the damn place. Phtt. Get food. Get coffee. Back on the bike, gas back up and go. Lost a lot of time in this useless little town.
Back on the highway, what to you imagine is the next sign I see? Mc Donalds. Grrr. Anyway, I've got a ways to go, and it's pushing 8:00 AM. On down I-80, over the Mississippi, on to I-88, pay my tolls (much easier than I had feared). While Iowa was green and pretty, Western IL is a flat yellow wasteland. Nothing to report here.
Just about 11:20 I hit I-290 into downtown Chicago. Heavy traffic but moving smoothly on my side. Not so on the outbound side - all the downtown residents must be trying to get the hell out of dodge before the Blues Fest crowd takes over.
40 minutes later, just before Noon, I pull thru the glass canyons of down town Chicago and turn right onto Columbus street. There's a stack of bikes at one end, with a bit of room for another. I pull a quick U-Turn and back into the spot. De-gear, take a few photos, and head for the shopping area. I stop off at the Best Buy music tent and buy a CD for my friends birthday and get a reciept for the mid-point. Find the T-Shirt booth, get the wife her T-shirt. Walk down the midway checking out the food vendors. Mmmm. Food. Nahh. Too greasy for today. Take a quick look at the lake, and head back across toward the bike. Have a couple guys take my photo with the t-shirt and Buckingham Fountain.
Another side note -- one of the riders on the LDRiders list, Doug Grosjean, brought up the topic of certain odometer numbers having a special signifigance. Like watching the odometer roll over 100,000 on your car or bike. Well, as I parked the bike in downtown Chicago, I rolled over 9,000 miles exactally. Unique happening, I thought.
Back to the bike, load up, gear up and back on the road by 12:30.
Congress to I290 to I88. All the traffic is inbound now and my outbound lane is nice and fast and clear. Gotta love good timing and clean living. Stop at the same Oasis for food and gas. Still sucks there. Get back on the road, over the Mississippi. I knew the wife would be heading thru here at some point - she takes I-80 to 55 to her parents house, and takes 2 days to drive up there.
About 4:00, I figured I had missed her or she had already made it into IL on 80 while I was still on 88. Just then, I look up and see a ratty red sports car headed East with this cute smiling redhead waving frantically at me. I waved and smiled inside the helmet and kept on down the road.
More gas stops. More road. The chamois liner on the bike shorts I was wearing was starting to chafe at the seams. Next time I get the LD Comfort shorts! My ass hurt. It's hot. Damn hot. The tires are starting to peel - little 0.5mm worms on the tread every time I stop. Drink lots of water. Dump lots of water over my self. Go. Go. Go.
Finally starts getting darker and I'm getting around Des Moines again. Hell, I might just make this. I'm averaging 47 MPH, and to do this in 22 hours will take an average of 48 MPH. Well cool. Turn left at Des Moines and keep on keepin on. I'm wearing out the turn signal switch with all the passing. Either all the speedos are just wrong on my bike, or nearly every one was going under the speed limit. Caught a couple of good rabbits in Iowa, make up a bit of time. Never did break the ton, which is unusual for me. Max speed was only 93 MPH.
Hey, look, it's Missiouri. Whee. It's dark. Whee! It's cool. Whew! Pull off at Cameron, MO, home of the worst lit exit in the nation, and manage to find the right lane on the bridge and get to the gas station. Call George, get gas, back on the bike.
Find the left turn across the hiway to get back on I-35, head South. More road. More passing. More elephant snot. I hate Missiouri. Cheap bastards. Hit the lights of KC, cruise right through downtown, and back to the Quiktrip I started at. George pulls in right behind me and I get my reciept and signed back in.
Well, that was fun, wasn't it now?
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Author: Will England (firstname.lastname@example.org) Complaints? /dev/null
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Created June 4, 2002    ::    Updated Tuesday, February 28 2006 @ 01:29pm